CCS asked:

If someone has a question about a religion, why do you feel like you can answer it? Someone asked ‘Is There A God’ and the response was I don’t really think so. What gives you authority?

Answer by Shaun Williamson

If someone asks you a question then you can give a definite answer or you can give your opinion.

The answer ‘I don’t think so’ is obviously an opinion and you don’t need any authority to give an opinion. If the answer had been ‘No there can’t possibly be a God’ then we would expect a philosopher to back up that answer with convincing rational arguments.

However philosophy is the attempt to find truth by means of rational thought. Philosophers don’t recognise ‘Authority’ and we don’t believe anyone has or needs authority to answer questions. Questions about the existence of God are not religious questions, they are just questions.

The pope may have authority to answer questions about Catholic theology but he has no special authority to answer the question ‘Does God exist?’.

In general religious people BELIEVE that God exists but they don’t have any convincing arguments to PROVE that God exists, nor do they have any special authority to answer such a question.

Answer by Tony Fahey

It seems to me that it is the same authority or, perhaps, the same right that allows one to state that one thinks there is a God. Particularly when this statement derives, not in virtue of the fact that one is born into and/ or indoctrinated into a belief system that insists that one’s own position on such things is unquestionable, but from one’s genuine search for the truth in such a matter.